Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum
This museum chronicles Savannah's civil rights history and honors Ralph Mark Gilbert, a leader in the city and the individual most associated with the city's mid-century civil rights movement. Gilbert served as president of the local NAACP chapter from 1942 to 1950. The museum features many exhibits depicting life in Savannah during the civil rights era, such as the recreation of a local department store that allowed African Americans to shop but not eat at it's restaurant. Other museum exhibits include artifacts from civil rights leaders, historic photos, and a large fiber-optic map showing the site of important civil rights events in the city and nation. Photographs and interactive exhibits are also located in the museum, as well as a book collection for children. The museum is located in a building constructed in 1914 whose first function was the Wage Earners Savings and Loan Bank, what was once the largest bank in the county for African Americans.
Backstory and Context
Dr. Ralph Mark Gilbert, who died in 1956, worked tirelessly for civil rights for African Americans. He helped reorganize the city's NAACP branch and help establish over forty branches around the state by 1950. Among his other achievements, he led a black voter registration drive which helped elect a mayor and city council that strove for reforms, such as the hiring of black policemen and other city employees. Gilbert was also a preacher, lecturer and playwright of religious dramas. The president of the NAACP chapter after Gilbert, W.W. Law, led the effort to establish the museum in the early 1990s.
"Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum." Visit Historic Savannah. Accessed September 23, 2016. http://www.visit-historic-savannah.com/ralph-mark-gilbert-civil-rights-museum.html.